The word defenestration is not something that one sees very often. I remember the word specifically being used during a European history class that I took in college.

Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. Informally, it is used to describe the act of removing someone from a position of power.

There are two important defenestrations in history: The First and Second Defenestrations of Prague, in 1419 and 1618, respectfully. Here is a general overview and I’m leaving out quite a bit of the details on the various relationships between the Protestants, Catholics, Habsburgs, Hussites, and others.

The First Defenestration of Prague involved the killing of several city council members by a radicalized mob. Yes, they were thrown out of a window at the local town hall. As a result, war broke out and lasted until 1436.

The Second Defenestration of Prague occurred when two government ministers and their secretary were thrown out of a tower window and somehow survived the 70 foot fall. They apparently landed in a dry moat. Soon after, the Protestant and Catholic factions in the area began preparing for war. The conflict ultimately lasted until 1648 and became known as the Thirty Year’s War.

Throwing someone out of a window is certainly a dramatic way to create change, remove someone from power, or simply make a statement. Maybe the people doing the throwing believed that this was the only option available to them. They needed to make a strong point.

Plenty has been written about why these two defenestrations occurred and I wonder if the people doing the throwing were aware of what their specific actions would cause? That’s a combined 47 years of war!

Why the history lesson? The events described above made a mark on me and not just because of the odd-sounding name.

This is one of the first times that I started to connect the dots and see that small events can have giant ripples in time. 

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